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One of Armenia's natural wonders, Lake Sevan has become a bone of contention for environmentalists, energy advocates and commercial groups. At a time when the coun0y faces another fuel-sfrapped winter, ecological and energy concerns are giving the Lake Sevan debate renewed urgency. ANALYSIS




Sharers of a new destiny? The recent agreement between the PLO and Israel gets a close reading in light

of geopolitical changes and the realities of life under occupation. IDEAS



Chickp e as,filmmakerNigol Bezjian's latest release, is an attempt to encapsulate the drama of living in the Diaspora. We take acritical look atthe core issues ex-

plored in this feature film. FIELD REPORT




As Diaspora institutions often fall short of their goal to bolsterArmenian culture and its chief living expression, the Armenian language, the endangered habits ofbook-buying andreading are going from bad to worse. But despite public indifference and commercial pressures, a numberoflosAngelesArmenian bookstores are sill keeping their doors open.

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Micllael Nahabot Vanan Oskanian


EXECUTIYE EDITOR: Salpi Haroutinian Ghazarian

TherewasatimewhenanArmenianlnternationalAnythingwouldhavebeenanoxymoron. Notanymore. AfterfouryearsofAlM, Armenianandlntemationaliswhatourreadersexpect. AtArmenian InternationalMagazine,weffytobeacrossbetweenParis'sfiIo ratchDuly, arguably the best of the Diaspora press, and Time, artong the best of international news weeklies. To succeedatthatgame, ourwriters needtobeacrossbetween Shavarsh Misakian and Walter Cronkite. They have to know the local, yet think global. But since writers in general, andjournalists specifically, aren'tthe kinds ofprofessionals we nurture as a community, finding the Misakian-Cronkites has proven more difficult and frustrating than anyone who grew up relying on either might imagine.

Difficult, but not impossible. Take this issue's analysis pieces. RonaldGrigorSuny'snameisfamiliartoreadersof


American Public Television andNational Public Radio, as well

as to

historians and scholars.

Fortunatelyforus,heisalsoanAlMregular.BeginningwithhispieceontheKarabakhconflict in AIM's premiere issue, Professor Suny has written forAIM with the specialperspectiveof a man whose doctoral dissertation, written in the 1960s, on the place of the Bolshevik Revolution in the social and political life ofBaku, has suddenly uken on special relevance. Suny is the etemal optimist and much of his inspiration has come from stories passed on byhis fatherabouthis musicologist grandfatherfrom Karabakh, GrigorMirzoyan Suni, and his experiences during the Bolshevik-Menshevik revolutions. Since its inception, AM has been a hotbed of eternal optimists. Whatelse would you call NubarHovsepian, whose firstpiecein AIM, on the still evolvingpeace in lrbanonappeared inFebruary ofthis year. Hovsepianis thequintessential scholarunafraidtobeadvocate-the product of a double Diaspora-an Armenian from Egypt forced to flee Lebanon, who then voluntarily left the US to participate in the Palestinian movement, because he viewed it as a point of universal solidarity. Aprofessorof MiddleEastpolitics andpoliticalscience, whoseworkhas appearedinthe NationandNewsday,Hovsepian'svoicehasbeenheardontheNationalPublicRadionetwork, andhis nameisfrequently seenalongsideEdwardSaid's andNoamChomsky's inacademic and civil forums on the Middle East and US Policy.



lshkhan Jinbashian




Chadss Nazarian Tony Halpin DIBECIOn: Dicran Y. Kassouny


EDIIORE: Vicken Babiklan, Ksvork lmirzian, Haig Kercpian, Malk Malkasian,Talino Satamian, Aris Sevag, Ronald Grigor Suny, Jivan Tabibian, Talin€ Voskeritchian


Marine Arakelians, Armen Aroyan, Micltasl

Arshagouni, Artashes Emin, Yvstte Harpootian, Hovhannes Harutlunian Anl Klchlan, Lola Koundakiian, Gilda Kupelian,

Michael Mastarclyan, Moorad Mooradian,Nancy Najarian,Ara Oshagan,Susan Pattie,Simon Payaslian,

Janet Samuelian, Ratli Shoubookian OOiRE3FOXDCXT!: Ammln: Ara Voskian; Amlicrd.m: AIs€n Nazarian; Iruatalr: Kevork Oskanian; Buanoa Alrct: Sam Sarkissian; London:Ani Manoukian; Mo3cow:Gayane Hambanzumian; Prrlr: Khaichik Krchian; Sydn.y: Haig Lepodiian; Vlcnna: S€bouh Baghdoyan; Wa3hlngton: Zanku Amenian; Yar-cvan: Papken Gadachik, Nune Magoyan, Tigran


PIIOIOOBAPHEBS: Amman: Karekin Kelelian; B.lrul:

Arno Jihanhn; Bo.lon: Lena San6nts, Ari Stamatiou; Florlda: TonySavino; Lor Angelor: Karinoh Amen; Sossi Madzounian, Kovod( Djansezian; Now Jor.oy: Ardem Aslanian; Now York: Harry Koundakjian; Parl3: Aminoh Johiln6, Aline Marcukian;

Proyldenca: Borga Ara Zobian; San Francbco: Am€n



Roub€n ManGsiian

Mkhilar Khadratrian, Zaven Khachikian,

438t3?AXf TO rHE ED!!OBS: Ayrin Baharian PHOIO AnCHlYltT: Varant Gou4ian CIaCUL flOla DIiECTOB: Thomas Yelsrian

Dtrll{ltti flVE DIRECIOR: Sota Kouzouian DVEiflSll{G DIBECIOR: Alina S. Kassabian ADyEnfltlllo DEP nTIEI{f: Meline Ounjian, Hratch Yorknabetian COLOR TEPARATION: A & A Graphics, Canada


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In this issue, Hovsepian writes-not very optimistically-about the Palestinians at this juncture in their epic struggle for Homeland: how the recent Palestinian-Israeli agreement was effected by regional geopolitics and how it will influence regional geopolitics.

Sunywritesaboutwhatdid-anddidn't-happeninYeltsin'sMoscow. Andwhatitdoesdoesn't-mean for the West, for Democracy and for Free Markets.


Hovsepian and Suny are two contributors helping us expand our vision and understanding of both the parts and the whole.

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True Believers I strongly feel AIM does not present an impartial picture of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), nor does it give the recognition that the party deserves. Many articles were written about the accusations made by President Ter Petrossian against the ARF. However, when an opportunity was given to the president to respond to his accusations, he remained silent. Once these accusations wereprinted, AIM had an obligation to report on this lack ofresponse in the interest of fair journalism. One wonders about the extent ofcoverage AIM would have given had the president been successful in providing documents to support his alleged accusations. For anyone with the slightest familiarity

with the history of the ARF to believe such unsubstantiated accusations is quite unlikely. ItwastheARFthatworkedrelentlesslyto pass Genocideresolutions. Itwas the ARFthat

The Bigger Picture I had often heard ofGerard Chaliand and his philosophical outlook only through discussions withfriends andbriefprofiles of him

intheArmenianpress. Thankstotheinterview published in the August issue of AIM, I am now totally fascinated by this man, his genius, his insight andprofound sense ofpolitical realism. He is one ofthegreatintellectual assets

of the Armenian Diaspora. Of course, I must give credit to the interviewers and editors of AIM who have presented the article in the smoothest and most down-to-earth style, making it a joy to read. Great subject and great piece ofjournalism.

PascalGuzel C ano g a P ark, C alifo


kept the Armenian cause alive for 70 years. It was the ARF that inspired us to keep the faith that the tricolor "would fly freely again," to quote the words of Garo Sassouni. It was the ARF, through its armed volunteers, that de-

fended the lives of ALL ARMENIANS in Lebanon during the recent civil war. These arejust a few ofthe reasons why I became an ARF believer. Until such time when a different political party will show a greater love, sensitivity and dedication forthe Armenian people, the ARF should receive the recognition it justly deserves. Vahe


Big Bear Lake, Califomia

Thumbs Up I would like to congratulate you on the quality of yourmagazine. I am a studentatthe

Get the Source Right

University of London and live away from

I refer to the two Letters to the Editor regarding the Land and Culture Organization feature (Institutions, April-May). In particular, I refer to the Dzor-Dzor project in han-that is, the relocation of the historic monument to save it from submerging in therising waters of aplanned reservoir. The projectwas initiated by the LCO back in 1978. Sincethen,theorganizationhasdone

home. As

much fundraising forthis undertaking and has transferred all generated funds to Mr. Onnik


result, I have little contact with the

local Armenian community.

It is a great

pleasure to comehometoreadyour magazine, as it is so informative on the lives of Arme-

nians around the world.

I recently read an article on Armenian children'scamps inEurope, theUS, Canada, and Argentina. (Leisure, April 1992) I found this ofgreat interest and I am considering applying forajob atoneofthesecamps. I amvery


Harutunian (the author of the first letter), treasurer of the Armenian Council in Tehran,

Ehine Kassabian London, England

who has issued the relevant receipts.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Varoujan Arakelian, who has also contributed to the project as a benefactor and architect, is being promoted as the sole benefactor. These facts should at least be known to Mr. Harutunian and Mr. Ara Arakelian (Varoujan's son), the author ofthe second letter. The LCO has taken these issues very seriously and is following them up with concerned authorities.

RoubenGalichian London, England

Thankyou forasuperbmagazineand great

journalism. I knew there was a good reason why I subscribedto AIM as soon as I received yourlustissue in I 990. My entire family looks forward to receiving and reading AIM every


RitaTatevossian Forest Hills, New York I appreciate AIM very much for being one of the best things thathappened to Armenians around the world. I wish you all success and I


FnfinB,nrc CHOPIN


oR Io &



pray for a peaceful Armenia.

Ittcine Tentunian Ontario, Canada



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134-APHlL24(16x21) 13s 136 137

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139 - MAP OF GENOCIDE 140 - MOUNT ARARAT (4 vie\,vs -




for Mountainous

when others merely spew forth hollow rhetoric.

Unlike the individual who takes it upon himselflherself to hide behind the shroud of anonymity in unjustly lambasting others, I sign this letter without hesitation. Kirk Andrew Kashian Coldwater, Michigan

S27.00 $10.00 $E.OO $l o.oo 3l 6.00

Editor: The anonymous letter objected to parts of the Dossierpiece on Mellconian, not the inclusion of the piece as a whole.

Book Hark

Editor: Gaume's book,l*s invit6s de la terre, rs not yet available in English. It is

qvailable in Frenchfrom the publisher, Seuil,

27 Rue Jacobe,75006 Paris, France, or through Abril Boolatore in Ios Angeles.

in U.S. dollar.

Lsttors to the oditors should be brief and lnclude verifiable name, signature, addresu and daytime phone number.





8wccks br de[vry.)

All ctrrcncia


Karabakh. Melkonian gave his life fo a cause

Andoven Massachusetts

For intdnational shipments plesc add $10.oo forthc first book and $1.75 for wh additionat.



I enjoyed the interview that appeared in Gaume (August).Is the book available in English?

- All books includc shipping & handling witrh Unitcd States. Cglifomia r€sidents please add 8.25% sal6 tsrL

6 -

differ! It is exactly articles like theoneincontention that lend to AIM's overt impartiality and patently obvious lackof bias. Arguendo, is it not the foremost tenet of journalism to report all newsworthy events regardless of ideology orpolitical affi liation? ln sum, MonteMelkonian foughtanddied forhis beliefs whilepreserving thehopes and

AIM with Myrian




AIM's objectivity

and impartiality. I beg to

Sl o.oo

(Arm. only -

B€stSollor -



I am somewhat amazed and certainly perplexed by the excerpts from the two letten in your August issue which criticize your excellentpublication. In particular, the critique of your Dossier piece on the death of Monte Melkonian is clearly unfounded. This anonymous individual would leadus to believe thatthe Dossierpiece onMelkonian

Cdnmunity Wortdwidc Sincc I 952. subiect to crh[rc witDut nolic..



Tel.: (213) 667-1128 Fax: (213) 667-1126 AIM, NOVEMBER 1993


lO?git, Glcndalr, Grlllomh 9f fog€?93 P. O. Box

orlax to (818) 246 0088. Letters may be edited and/or condensed.

Number of Azerbaijani refugees in hanian Red Crescent Refugee camps: 5,000. Number of Georgian refugees fleeing Abkhazia: l20,ACf. Number of 15-kg boxes of food donated by Huntsman Chemical Corporation-Armenia' s first joint-venture partner-to refugees in earthquake zone this spring: 50,000. Number of Armenians who left Armenia during 1988-1992: 14,600. Number who went to other republics of the former USSR: I I 6,600. Number who went abroad: 28,000. Number of non-Moslem countries of ttre former USSR to receive from Turkey: I (Georgia).



Number of Armenian kings named Irvon: 5.

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Paris ? We Offer you accomodations in our furnished studios just off the Champs.Elysees. Rooms include: kitchen, television, telephone. Monthly rate:

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Number of privatized farms in Armenia as of January, 1992: 1@,5421' in Russia: 49,770;in Llkraine: 2,098;in Azerbaijan: 9.

I tonth



Amount of wine and vodka ( o ghi) prduced in Mountainous Karabakh each year: I 2, 1 00,000 liters. Numberof Azerbaijanis raded by Karabakh officials for six Russian servicemen held by Azerbaij an, in September: 1 4. Percentage of women outof a total enrollmentof 2,000 atthe newlyopened University of Karabakh: I 00.

Amountof aid (medication and children's nourishment) sentby Armenia toTajikistan in September: 8 tons. Quantity of clothing brought to defense fighters of Karabakh by a representative of the Armenian Catholic Church in southem Syria: 2.5 tons.

Sources: Azg, Covcas Bulletin, Erkh, Zohrab lC News Digest, Parliament Press Otlice, Presidenlial Press Office.


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A Kremlin summit of the Russian, Armenian, Georgian, and Azerbaijani presidents on October 8 helped further bolster the Commonwealth of Indepen-



years of steering clear of the CIS camp,

BACKIN KARABAKH... After a meeting that Armenian political observe$ had viewed as a hopeful step toward a negotiated settlement of the Karabakh war, Azerbaijani hesident Haidar Aliev and Karabakh State Defense Committee Chairman Robert Kocharian agreed to a one-month extension ofthe October 5 ceasefire. Azerbaijan's tentative membership in the CIS, as well as an ongoing dialogue benveen Aliev and Armenian President [rvon Ter Petrossian, were credited for

thelatestthaw. Ter Petrossian had words ofpraise for what he perceived as his counterpart's willingness to opt for a political resolution. Aliev, on his part, called for the implementation of the October 8 CIS security agreement, therebydemanding Karabakh's withdrawalfrom Azeri territory, even though the agreementguarantees ttrc integrity of CIS extemal borden only. All this beforemid-OcoberwhenAzeri forcesbroke the ceasefire and began an offensive along southern Karabakh. The forces of Mountainous Karabakh retaliated and drove back Azeri forces to the Iranian border. Azerbaijan's attackfollowed its rejection ofthe 'Timetable of Urgent Steps" proposed by the Minsk group ofthe Council for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and supported by the UN Security

Council. HakobAeatrlan

WELL.OILED VENTURE SpurredonbyaUS TradeandDevelopmentAgency report confirming oil reserves possibilities in Armenia, ajointexploration and development agrpementhas been

signed between the Fuel and Energy Ministry of the Republic of Armenia and the New Jersey-based ArTIETTIBERSH!P


(above): Ter Petrosslan and Allev hearlng


(rlghl): TheClSeconomlc cooperatlon talks.


Georgia's Edvard Shevardnadze and Azerbaijan's Haidar Aliev at last agreed to Moscow's confederate scheme, evidently pushed closer in by a string of hu-

miliating military defeats and tenitorial losses at the hands ofbreak-away republics Abkhazia and Karabakl Despite much evidence that Russia had a hand in pulling the military levers, itwasneverthelessRussia's own Boris Yeltsin who brokered the summit which spawned a security agreement seeking'hnilateral" and "multilateral" ways to end hostilities, including current blockades, in the Transcaucasus.

llgran Xmallan AIM,NOVEMBER 1993

menian Oil and Gas Development Fund (ARMOIL). Touted as a majorstâ&#x201A;Źp toward tapping resources for local fuel consumption and attracting foreign investment, the agreement was brought about by the the

combined efforts

of the Armenian


Diaspora institutions, donors and investors. "We have been very fortunate to be able to bring together a number of Diasporan industrialists, as well as several charitable and political organizations, such as the Amrenian General Benevolent Union and the Armenian Assembly, to collaborate on this important projecg" said lkair Hovnanian of the Assembly, who is Chairman of the Board of Directors of ARMOIL. Fourprospect sites near Yerevan-Hoktemberian, Shoraghpur, Sevaberd and Getashen-have been targeted for initial exploration by ARMOIL. Aside from affording fuel-strapped Armenia some respite, any gas


willmean additional

benefits in rpducedproduction costs, thanks to ttre sites' proximity to the county's fuel pipelines.

"We hope thatthis vital pilotproject, whichhas great humanitarian value for Armenia, will be commercially viable and will serve as a model for other large-scale development projects," said Fuel and Energy Minister Sebouh Tashjian, commenting on the ARMOIL deal. The company is seeking more invesors to fund the 3O-month project. The going rate for one ARMOIL share? A mere $250.000.

Aylln Baharlan



GOODLINE: Papazlen



ln his address to the 48th General Assembly of the UN, Armenian Foreign Minister Vahan Papazian reiterated his government's willingness to accept a CSCE brokered settlement to the Karabakh war. SpeakingonOctober I 1, Papaziancalledon theUN to reconsiderits policy of non-intervention in the internal affain of states. Papazianpointed outthattoday, very few wars are foughtbetween nation-states.Instead, he said, "sruggles for self-determination within nation states have increasingly turned to bloody conflicts and civilwar. TheUNshouldserveastheforumwheresuch movements could voice theircomplaints, negotiate with goverrment authorities for peaceful and realistic territorial and political solutions, and obtain just adminis-

ration of their affairs."

WESTERN ATTRAGTIONS Meanwhile, in Azerbaijan, Chevron has signed a newagreementwiththestateoil companytoconducta study, likely to cost several million dollars, of an undrilled segment of the southern Caspian Sea, to evaluateits explorationpotential. This is anareatothe south of the region which is still under negotiation by an international eight-company consortium, including Unocal, Pennzoil andothers, andwherethereareknown

oilfields. Other oil companies have not been idly sitting by. British Penoleum, which had reportedly close ties to the previous Azerbaijani regime of Abulfez Elchibey, appears tobe courting the current governmentof Haidar Aliyev as well. Aliyev's advisor, Marat Manafov, is said tohave announced that should thejointdeal ofthe consortium reach the point of development, "in view of the Azeri government, BP should become the op erator ofthe Caspian project." Aylln Baharlan

Under such a system, a'trust territory" would be that part of a member state voluntarily placed into tnrsteeship by the governmentof that state for the purpose of resolving a selfdetermination clairq under UN supervision and without prejudicing the final status of the

territory. In the days following the UN address, Papazian and his delegation, which included Alexander Arzoumanian, Armenia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Rouben Shugarian, Ambassadorto ttrUS, andVartan

Oskanian, Head of the Foreign Ministry's North American Desk, held meetings with UN Secretary General Bounos Bouros Ghali and otherofficials. The delegation also made


three-day stopover in Southern

California for public appearances and meetings with Armenian community leaders.

VOTINGON EMPTY Yet another round of elections were held on October 3 to fill the 16 empty seats in the Armenian parliament. But with none of the individual elections me,eting a 51 percent quorum in any one district-no preAIM,NOVEMBER 1993


A morality


pitting Ghristian virtue against pagan bartarlsrnr

Pollttto calls for as much flash and


bravado as a modern stage

Gtlew Gan

handle, especially in light of its obvious


relevance to the currrent Armenian-

Azertaiiani situation.

cinct exceeded a 20 percent voter turnout-none of the contested seats was filled. "We thought that after the fall of the Communists, communism itself would disappear, but we werc dead


non-voter. "Everyone is discouraged at the turn of events. The enthusiasm for participating in the democratic process that was evident two years ago is gone Alexander Manucharian, a frustrated member of said one

parliament considers it pointless to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections. "The people won't come," he says, interpreting the current low voter turnout as a kind ofquiet boycottby the people. Voskan Mamlkonlan

Yerevan. Agreeing to a request by Greek-Armenian businessman Garabed Kalfayan to donate aircraft fuel, the Greek government also waived loading and handling charges attheThessaloniki airport. A DC-8 cargoplane was then chartered at a low cost through ho Courier, an Armenian-owned transportation company in Vir-

ginia. Once all logistical and financial problems were solved, thecargoplanemadeatoal of 18 flights from mid-Augustto early September, delivering one million pounds of food parcels to the Armenian Red Cross in Yerevan.

Aylln Baharlan

QUAKETALK Continental Collision Zone Earthquakes and Earthquake Hazard Reduction was the theme of an international seismic conference held in Yerevan this Ocober, with delegates representing 20 countries. The conference was organized by Armenia's National Survey for Seismic Protection. hofessor Alexei Nikolayev, General Chairman of the Conference, and other participating scientists visited Spitah the epicenter of the devastating I 988 earttrquake in Armenia, to assess reconstnrction efforts and analyze the seismic stability of new buildings. Reviewing the circumstances of the eartlrquake, Nikolayev discountedrumors of a Russian nuclearexplosion in the Arctic as the direct cause of the Armenian tremblor. He noted that Eemors which were registered in han the day before the Armenian earthquake held greater significance for the larger tremblor. Armen Baghdasarlan

THE INGENIUS AIRLIFT The AmericanRedCross campaignto getfoodparcels delivered from Turkey to Armenia has finally paid off thanks to an alternative route. Turkey refused to allow delivery of the goods by shutting down its border with Armenia in early AEil following Karabalfi 's takeover of Kelbajar. Ankara's move prompted Maria Princi, hoject Manager for the American Red Cross, to seek assistance from other sources. Afterthe United Armenian Fund was consulted in


July, plans were made by the lns Angeles-based organization and the American Red Cross to move the parcels from Turkey to Greece and then aidift them to


OFPOMPAND CIRGUMSTANCE The staging of Gaetano Donizeni' s Poliuto by the Yerevan State Opera in October became the performance sensation of the season. A morality tale pitting Christian virtue against pa-

gan barbarism, Poliuto calls for as much flash and technical bravado as a modern stagecrew can handle,

especiallyinlightofits obvioustextualrelevancetofte current Armenian-Aze6aijani situation. The Yerevan State Opera, underthe direction of Tigran kvonian and the baton of Ohan Durian, has more than risen to the occasion, creating something of a magical light show for frazded Yerevan audiences. Originally entitld P olyeucte,the piece was written by the 17th century French dramatist Pierre Corneille and was adapted for the opera by Donizeni, a I 9th cen-

tury ltalian composer; it tells of the travails of its Christian hero, an Armenian oddly named Polyktos, who accepts the ultimate sacrifi ce of offering his life for Jesus.

Underlyingtheopera's inspirationalthrustwasalso the fact that the music sheets and libretto were recently

rcdiscovered in the monastic archives of the Mekhitarian Fathers in Venice, Italy. The cache was sent to His Holiness Vazgen I.


URGENTRESPONSE US President Bill Clinton recently signed the Foreign AssistanceAppropriations Act forfi scal year 1994,

ALLSMILES: Wreslllng champlons Ter Mkrtlchlan, Raul Martlnez (gold rnedallst) and Nazarlan.

whichincludes a $2.5 billion aidpackage for the independent states of the former Soviet Union. Armenia is given special priority, with $18 million earmarked for emergency fuel and wheat supplies to help it ease worsening shortages. Commenting on the urgent situation in the Arme-

nian Republic, Senators Robert Dole and Frank I-autenberg have pointed out that "Armenia today is a nation without adequate food, energy, medicing and shelter for its people. This crisis has primarily been caused by ttre blockades resulting from the Nagorno IGrabakh conflict and the collapse ofthe SovietUnion." The aid provision for Armenia is one of the few to survive the arduous US Congress foreign appropriations debates this year. The republic was granted over$188 million in aid for fiscal year 1993, second only to Russia.

OLYMPIAN LOAD This year's World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championship ganrcs wereheld in Sockholm, Sweden, in September, with athletes representing 51 countries. Armenia also participated in the games, achieving animpressiveeighth-placeranking. Armenian wrestlers fromboththehomeland andtheDiasporawerp awarded three medals.<negold, one silver and one bronzein addition to scoring trvo fourttr-place finishes. Olympic hopefuls Agasi Manukian of Armenia and Hamtik Rubinian of Greece frnished first and fourttt respectively in ttre 57 kg class. In the 52 kg flyweight class, Armen Nazarian of Armenia took second place and Alfird Ter Mkrtichian of Germany took third. In the 48 kg class, Vardan Paloian of Armenia finished in fourth place. Serak Agonian, a member of the Olympic Committee, considered this a remarkable feat for Armenia and a stepinthe rightdirectionforateamwhich expects to meet formidable competitors from Russia,

Cuba and South Korea at the upcoming


Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

ICE.HOT The legendary ice-skating rink of New York's Rockefeller Center opened its I 993 winter season with a performance by two prize-winning champion ice skaters from Armenia, Ararat Zal*arian and Hakob

Manukian. The freestyle champs, both 27, are members of the Ice Theater of New York. They made their professional US debut with Walt Disney's World on Ice after years in ttre Soviet Union as members of tlre USSR National Team, as coaches, and as members ofthe lrningrad lce Ballet Company with which they toured Hungary, Po-

land, Korea,



GUDINGAWAY: Zakarlan and





generation is urgedto choose, buta wholenew

world of better things

of which


Sargissian, 30, regards himself as tireless

mong the most visible consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union is an alrnost total absence of communist propaganda that once permeated public spaces behindtheLronCurtain. Since 1990, theubiquitous bronze andg)?sum statues oflenin and Marx, monumenal painted


"We don't need the chemical and industrial monsters here to bring us prosperity," Sargissian explains. "All we need is clean water and clean air to show the beauty of Sevan andArarat. We should startttrinking of our natural habitats as genuine articles of

portraits of "People's Heroes" and communist slogans have been replaced by McDonald's and Coca Cola advertisements or by pur-



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"I hated the propaganda," recalls Ashot Sargissiar, head of ASSA,


burgeoning advertising agency in Armenia. "honically, we are now using the same sites, skeletons and rcmainders of that old rub-

bish to


mdern ad-

vertising, a new image of


The current capitalist revival in Armenia took hold with several stockex-

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lonely hein o fallen statues.

change offices, a couple of travel bureaus and dozens of casinos. ASSA copy writers and artists were instrumen-

tal in shaping images for many of these enterprises. But is there really anything to advertise in Armenia? This is the first and typical question Sargissian

faces. ASSA's colorful advertisements dotting Yerevan last winter looked

The Pepsl generatlon gets lts


brutally surreal to city dwellers laid hostage to blockade-caused shortages of basic necessities. "Ijust showed the people a glimpse of a better life and a better time," Sargissian says.

Flagrantly insensitive though this may sound, it may well be a reflection of popular defi ancein the faceof advenity. Viewed from

apurely capiAlistperspective, ASSA's work is somewhat innocuous in ttrat it is hardly about creating competition between a handful of fledgling local business ventures-at least so far. What ASSA and similar Armenian advertising agencies do reinforce is a sense of competition between old and new lifestyles: it is notjust a Pepsi that the new AIM, NOVEMBER 1993

trade, as ways of selling Armenia betterforthe prosperity of the republic. "And we need these casinos to tum the city into a Caucasian Las Vegas. Rich Georgians are already flocking to Yerevan's gambling meccas, sincetheyhaveadearthofsuchplaces back in Tbilisi. The hanians and Turks will

come too."

ASSA recently covered part of Yerevan's

Ani Hotel with a l0O-foot-long stock exchange advertisement. Judging from the banner's scarlet fabric, the agency may have saved a bundle by buying from the massive textile reserves of the same propaganda color ttrat were inherited from communist days.



donor returns for an "information session", during which the entire marrow harvestprocedure is explained. A physical exam is performed !o ensure that the potentid donor is healthy andthattheprocedurewillnotputhim or her at any risk.

[.eukemia, an equal opportunity cancer, affects all races. Certain types of leukemia are more effectively reated by trans-

By LOLA KOUNDAK.TIAN A few y e ars a g o, as Ia I a Ko undakj ian e ntered thc New York Blood Centerfor a dona-

plantation of healthy bone


marrow. Most

she noticed a brochure which described nav International Bone Manow Re gistry, Volunteers were asked to donate platelets, ins t e od ofw ho le blood, and be " tiss uc W e d. " She joined on the spot, and, later, wrote about it ( see " Giving the Gifi of Life : Bonc Manow Transplants Among Armenians," AIM, July


r99t). She has been donating platelets in this prototype program for the past four years. IAst September, the New York Blood Center contacted her to say tlnt she was a "partial

donors (30 percent) are



cause tissue types are inherited. A ma-


discovery revealed that


individuals can also be

match:" the Registry at the University of

matched. The

M bme s ota lwd dcte rmine d tlwt Konndaki ian and another leukemia patient shared four leukocytes. She doruted afew tubes of blood

likelihood is even higher

for funher testing. Unfortunately, with chances only onc in a hundred, Koundakjiart

was not a total match to the patient. The patient' s search c ontinue s.






amongst people of the same race or ethnic origin, because these same tissue types are often unique to a particular race. When a full march occurs, another blood sample is talen for a confirmation test. The

diseased marrow of the patienL Half aday's workto save alife. Notbad-

LotaKounhlstan ls a wrfier wlto llvlllln tlewYorkClty.


A/AIIABIEAT IASI! ililllll,tlfis

The bone marrow harvest takes about half aday; itinvolves extracting marow fromthe hip bone and is done under anesthesia. Then itis transplanted intraveneously to replace the



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nywayyoulookatigthe veryexistenceof aninstitution called the Environment Minisfiy of the Republic of Armenia is cause for celebration. It is evidence, for one thing, that despite an economy on the verge of collapse and harrowing war-time conditions, the young republic has taken its ecological destiny seriously enough to create a govemment ministy for

it. But Minister Karine Danielian has notexactly got itmade. On the one hand, she continues to fight for some of the most awe-inspiring natural habitats on the planet. By faith, ideology and disposition, the

minister is committed to an ecosystem that breathesrather than obsffucts-life in

Clockwlsefrom top: Plpes waltlng to be used for the water collectlon system around Sevan; llcensed flshermen wlth theh catch; pan ot the lleet ol pollce boats tlghtlng poachers; Sevan's water level has somewhat stablllzed glnce the late 1980s.

Armenia. On the other hand, Danielian is entrusted with the unsavory task of accommodating, oft en at AIM,NOVEMBER

great environmental cost, at least

some of the water, energy and food interests of a coun0ry laid hostage by war and economic blockade. Many of those interests have now come to revolve around the venerable I-ake Sevan, a habitat that has roused renewed passions on both sides of the Green debate.

Even the most optimistic of Yerevaners today will have a hard time conceding a silver lining in their lot. But to Hakob Sanasarian, President of Armenia's Green Party, pirch-blue skies above the capital are the bright side of an unrelenting

economic blockade and fuel shortages.

Sanasarian remembers the days when carbon monoxide from cars and other industrial emissions marred the Yerevan skyline with thiclg unbreathable smog 365 days ayear; he will gladly cite any number of studies on Yerevan's horrific miscarriage and birth defect rates to make his case against socially irresponsible technology. After all, he might remind you, much oftherallyrng cry of the Demo-

cratic Movement from 1988 onward had stemmed from popularindignation in the face of ecological havoc wreaked by

industrial behemoths like Nayirit. Sanasarian fears the headway in environmental awareness that was made since 1988 is fast losing ground in the whirl of socio-

economic woes plaguing the young republic. Time and again,

every 15 years. Butsince 1971, itfuezesevery winter. Between the winter frost and the sunmer algae, the amountof oxygen inthewaterhas alsodecreased. Thishasdisastrouseffects on

the famous ishkhanadsuk [Sevan Trout] which can only grow and reproduce in cold and clear water. All of the flora and fauna within the lake's ecosystem have undergone massive change.

lndurtrlal and othcr klnds of poh lution havc alto taxcd the lake. How cxtcnrlvc 13 thc damagc ln thlc arra? In recent decades, Sevan's water purity ratios have gone frombad to worsebecause huge quantities of agricultural drainage, sewage-and BAisonous chemicals are dumped

Above: One ol lour fleh hatcherles where three to four mllllon lshkhanadeuk,ln addltlon to tens ol mllllons ol other llsh, are nurtured. he stresses his hope

thatArmenians will have

the tenacity and wisdom not to shortchange the counuy' s ecological fu ture for immediate energy gains, such as reopening the Metzamor

nuclear power plant, clearing woodlands or depleting the water and wildlife resources of Lake Sevan. With the coming winter conceivably the worst since Armenia's independence, and amid fierce public debate over alternative sources ofenergy, Sanasarian's may indeed be an uphill banle.

AIM's Armineh Johannes and Armen Baghdasarian interviewed Danielian and Sanasarian, respectively, in their Yerevan offices.

It used to be tl youeouldsee i mercan barely


lxnttta 1898.n @f.rt t


1898.N 1897.80 1897.70 1897.60 1897.50 1897.40

THE FARTHER SHORE Al]f,: The middlc of the road in the lakc Scvan dcbatc scems to point

toa loorc maintcnancccffort: thc Grcens will gct their basic clcan. up and water leve! conservation pnograms, whllc thc govcmmcnt will continuc to have access to

ScYan's rssourccs whenevcr It has

nowhers else to turn (i.e., indcll. nitely). But is the maintenancc compromisc cnough to savc thc lake? Danlclian:

Not really. Preserving the wa-

terlevel of the lake is only half the story. The level must in fact be raised by 13-20 feet-a needthathasbeenestablishedby anumberof studies.

With the drop in surface level, the water has become less clear, since the sediments at

1897.30 1897.20 1897.10 1897.05


the bottom now come closer to the surface. They sayitusedtobethatifyoudroppedyour watch in Sevan, you could see it down to a

deptttof65 feet.Today, aswimmercanbarely sephishand. Not only that, but with extreme heat conditions andlow waterlevels, green-blue algae grow profusely. In parts of ttre lake where the average depth is 65 to 80 feet, Sevan "flowers" every summer. If the water level was merely 13-20 feet higher, the water would become less warm and therefore less algae

wouldgrow. Another problem with algae is that freezes. In the past, Sevan would freeze



during extremely cold winters, maybe once



into the lake. Only about one fourth of this lethal load gets preliminary cleaning. Of the 107 factories around Sevan, only six fi ltertheir sewage before releasing it into the lake. Furt}rermore, theriversandstreamsthatflowinto Sevan are themselves polluted. Old-timers used to say that the water of Gegharkuni--a rivulet where the ishkhanadszlc went to

spawn-had crystal-clear water.


Gegharkuni, which has since been renamed Gavaraget, receives all the waste from the factories of the city of Kamo and the sewers of the town of Noraduz. At its mouth, the rivulet is simply liquid waste. No lake, even one larger than Sevan, can take such a large quantity of pollution.

But these ?avages have also triggered consistent dcmands from

both the public and scientlfic

community to take up Sevan ao an ecologica! cause celebrc. ls thcru riraron to bclieve that conservatlon can at lcast catch upwiththc dcstruction? There are indeed some good signs. Since the 1960s, growing public awareness of the Lake Sevan situation has yielded a slew of counter-measures that need to be expanded now. These include the construction of irrigation reservoirs, hydroelectric plants and the Metzamor nuclear power plant to somewhat lift water and energy pressures off Sevan. Sincethe mid- 1970s, thelake's waterlevelhas relatively stabilized despite the occasional energyencroachment. Andwhen, in 1989, the

might take a decade to become fully operational. During these days of critical shortages, Sevan willprobablycontinuetopay ahightoll as the major dependable source ofenergy in the republic. The thermal power plants are working, but at extremely low capacities, because gas is so hard to comeby. tn all, some 50percentof thecountry's energy production

today comes from Sevan.


Alll: ls ecological

Gon3crvancy becoming toughcr to maintain in developing nations?

You'vc workcd hard agalnst the rcopcnlng of Uctzamor. Do you considcr thc Lakc Scvan option thc lesrel of two cvlls? OurcampaigntokeepMetzrnorshutdown by scientific fact. No conscientious expert will tell you the plant is safe to operate: itlacks aprotectivedome, itisconsfiucted in a heavily populated, seismically unstable zone, and it is too close to an underground water reservoir that contains some 39 billion cubic yards ofwater(almostthe samevolume is backed

asLakeSevan's). A serious accidentatMetzamorwillmean an ecological cataclysm that will make the 1988 earthquake seem like a minorinconvenience in comparison. The effects ofsuch a catastrophe are unimaginable; but they will certainly spell sheer genocide for great seg-

at if you dropped your watch in Sevan,

lown to a depth of 65feet. Todayt? SWilttiee his hand. Arpa-Sevan tunnel actually helped raise the lake's surface level, chemical and physical indicators across the board beganto improve. Thepointis, thelakehas,

ments of the Armenian population and will be felt well beyond the borders of


There is also the issue of waste

and can, respond quickly to positive

products. To date, nuclear waste from Metzamor has yet to be neutralized or stored away in arelatively safe landfill. There are no plans to dispose ofnewly createdwaste should Metzamorreopen. Moreover, there is the unsavory prospect of further economic dependence on


Arsuming availability of fu nds

and othcr rcsourccs, what

would lt takc totum Sevan into a

clcan, vlablc habitat again?

The two fundamental issues thatneed


sources, sinceArmeniawill have to import the uranium necessary to oF erate the plant. As fortheLake Sevan option, Ican't

to be addressed are surface level and water purification. To start with, the Vorotan River must be diverted to the Arpa-Sevan pool. The project is almost

really consider it a necessary evil. The

complete, and the government has thrown in some half a billion rubles this year to get it going. The Arpa-Sevan

first and mostpainfully obvious thing we must recognize about Sevan is thatit's not an infinite resource. If we utilize its water attoday's rates foranothertwoor

nrnnel itselfis now undergoing reconstmction, and the project is only some two miles short of becoming fully functional. Yerevan has managed to allocate


three years, we


end up with a

swamp. Welre talking about a vicious


buil9ing the tunnel quickly enough. il.fii,iiii'r,t. Also, many irrigation reservoirs are currently being built in_ the Ararat?lain and I sanaredan: Economics are, or shouldbe, aroundSevantosomewhateasetheburdenon I at the heart of environmental concerns. Dethelake.Asforthesevan-Hrazdaninigation I veloping nations must look to spreading complex, reconstructive work is needed to I economlcgainsforthelongerterm.itfrertfran improveefficiency. lmproveefilclency. instance, inI reaping reaoine instant in-stant rewards.-For rewards. For instance. W-aterpurificationmayprovetobeatleast u"riirfirpurificationfacilitiesnearindusrial I to | as d_ifficult to pull through. muy be far more profitable in the .ln 3ddition holding on the flow of toxic liquids, a circu"rt"rp?r"r long iun than emitting hazardous byproducts | lar sewage collection systgr-n must be built I into-tt Armenia's dire " "nuironmenitoday. around the lake to extract dirty waters. The I economic situation is all the more reason to ministries of Health, Economy and Environment have approved a plan that would allow

| I thewaterstobeextractedandrefirydatfgq I regional purification centers, but the project I


ardonomicallyviablefuturebypayingclose attertion to conservation ana &dtoiicatty responsible means ofproduction. AIM,NOVEI\'BER 1993

circle here: as the lake's water level continwill the capacity to draw hydroelectric power. For now, I don't see a way out unless we actually import elecficity. ues to drop, so

But the reality is that we now seom forced to make a choice between opening up Metzamor and further taxing lake Sevan. How would you rcsolve the ilsue, considering that importing electricity is something of an imposlbility given the cur. rent politieal crisis? It's a tough call. Lake Sevan is notonly a major source offishing, but also ofdrinking andirrigationwater. WiththeSevan"swamp" scenario, you'll end up with the extinction of an important ecological system and a lower standard of living, but you might say no loss of life will result. It is something else with an atomic power plant. Metzamorprovideswarmth, movement and makes it possible for schools and kindergartens togoon. Butall thesecan suddenly disappear if an accident occurs. We Greens have the same stomach as those in favor of reopening the plant, we too want the same abundance. But I find it unacceptable to sell our future generations' right to exist for the luxury of feeding ourselves better today . Translated by Marlne Arakellans.


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ASevan Primer

ake Sevan sits 6,206 feet above sea level. Twenty-eight rivers run into the lake, with a total annual water input of l0l4 million cubic yards. In the early 1930s, a plan was devised to deepen the channel of the Hrazdan River, the only one originating from the lake, which then sat6265 feet above sea level. Itwas calculated thatthe lake's surface would drop by 163 feet in 50 years, exposing a land mass that couldbe utilized for agriculfural and otherpurposes. By 1962,after 42 percent of the water volume was lost, it became clear that these lands could not be used for agricultural purposes, and the Armenian government moved to keep the lake's altitude at its present level. After construction of a 30-mile canal linking the Arpa river to Sevan was completed in 1981,325 million cubic yards of waterpoured annually into the lake to compensate for the annual loss of some one and a third billion cubic yards lost during the 30 years ofthe Hrazdan project. Presently another canal linking the Vorodan river to Sevan is under construction. Two capes divide the lake into two sections connected by a broad strait. The rocky bluffs of Sevan Island formerly rose above the surface of the northwestern part of the lake. During the years when the lake water was being released, the island became connected with the shore, forming a peninsula. Sevan Monastery, an architectural complex founded in the fourth century, is located on the peninsula with the clear silhouettes of the complex's two ninth century churches visible from a great distance.



rule, the Armenian government has increased the flow of water

from Sevan in recent years only when the country's energy crisis reached emergency levels. From January until Augustjust this year, enough water was let go to reduce Sevan's

inches-aboutonebillion cubic


waterlevel by some 30


ffi,^filrYr Steps fo the Cloridge & Bolly Cosinos

l5o6r-fffffii SAVE AIM, NOVEMBER 1993

40%'7 0o/o EVTRYDAY 2t


emergedin thelate Soviet and earlypost-Sovietperiod andhave only grown greaterunder the impact of Yeltsin's policies.


The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, undertaken by Yeltsin

Goup D'etat and Gounter - Revolution in lloscow By ROIIALD GRIGOR SUI{Y


launched by those around the parliament an

attempt at a "second October revolution." Yeltsin enthusiasts spoke of padiament chief

fter the confusing cascade of

Ruslan Khasbulatov and vice-president


Alexandr Rutskoi as "hardliners,"r'Bolshevils" and "reactionaries". Yeltsin's actions, including his dismissal of parliament which

Western minds. Fint, the courageous Boris Yeltsin standing on a tank before the massive edificeknown as theWhiteHouse; second, the

had initiated ttte crisis, were defended by the hoped-for ourcome-ttp creation of a viable Russian state sanctioned by democratic elec-


withoutGorbachev's knowledge, resultedin a political vacuum. No shared consensus on the future of Russia and the Commonwealth oflndependent States existed among those who had climbed to power, and thebreakup of the Union, which few politicians in Russia desired, created onemore fracnrre in leader-

ship circles. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of leaders, most of whom were former members of the Communist party, faced an ideological abyss. Only a few understoodthenew language ofpolitics orhad experience with building pottical consensus through compromise. The vaguely outlined goals--democracy, market economy, national righs-gave little guidance. The 25-month period benveen the August 199 I coup and the September 1993 coup was marked by a vigorous, even vicious sruggle

for power within the ruling elites. That sruggle was all the more intense because it would determine the future shape of Russia's

political system and the distribution ofprop erty and wealth

as the

old command economy

was transformed into a capitalist system. Some would say that, during this period in Russia, it was impossible to impose both shock therapy and maintain the existing constitutional order. In the aftermath of the coup and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the generally pro-Yeltsin parliament agreed that emergencypowers shouldbe givento thepesident, who then could guide the ship of state to a more ranquil harbor. But the first yearof Yeltsin's rule was marked, not by compromise and consensus, but by the launching of a radical

economicprogram-YegorGaidar's policy of "shock therapy"-that further divided

scorched remains of the same building after the recent siege ordered by the same


From the dramatic days of his defense of Gorbachev's reforms in August 1991 to the bloody suppression of the resistance by parliament and ttre defenders of the old constitution in October 1993, Yeltsin has been the West's most familiar Russian icon, the recognizable symbol of shared hopes for democracy. As the principal player in a drama to which nearly 200 million citizens of the Russian Federation, more than 100 million citizens of otherformerSovietrepublics, and much of the post-Cold War world are merely spectators, Yeltsin anchors our uncertainties and

provides a guide o an unknown future.

In the first weeks of the crisis, the great majority of pundits and prognosticators en-

the Russian effort to end the political gridlock

thusiastically supported president'



Moscow. Some called the violence

tions in December. Others pointed out thatthe very parliament that Yeltsin overthrew had originally been his ally and thatthe standoffbetween the branches of govemment reflected real political differences within the elites that run the country. Yeltsin, in fact, had bepn elected under the same constitution, amended by the parliament to create the very position of president thathe occupies. Finally, itappeared that the one-time defender ofconstitutionalism and legality in Russia had become the gravediggerof the very institutions that his predecessor, Gorbachev,

opinion and the leadership. Cleavages over economicpolicyhadin the late Sovietperiod undermined Gorbachev, and his opponents on the Irft (those most committed to radical reform and withpowerful allies abroad)had akenupmarketizationas apowerfulweapon against the gradualists. Yet this lurch to the

Lrft only increased the misery of the population and threatenedthe positions of many industrialandpoliticalleaders. Russiawasfaced by adeepening crisis of political legitimation, with the population growing increasingly disillusioned by politics. As Russia descended into economic meltdown, with much of thepopulationrap idly impoverished, Yeltsin'


popularity, even

had carefully cultivated to replace the monopoly of Communist power. Theprehistory of Yeltsin's recent moves

among his former followers, diminished. Khasbulatov, after all, had been Yeltsin's choice for speaker ofthe parliament and an

backino tlpdistantpasL

ally during the sruggles against Gorbachev. Rutskoi had stood side-by-side with Yelsin duringthe defenseoftreWhiteHousein l991 andhad been Yeltsin's choice for vice president, acandidate, itwas hoped, popularwittr

need notbeextended

Though Russian political culture and traditions influence thecounEry's leaders andvoters, therecentcrisishasbeen stucturedmuch moreby the fractures in themling elites that


the army and the nationalists. But the Gaidar

gion, andcenralRussia. Whileslightly more

factions favoring differentpatlr to economic

policies solidified an opposition within the parliament, which continued to call for more gradual moves toward privatization and grâ&#x201A;Źater guaranteas of social protection.

than trvo-'thirds of the army voted for Yeltsin, nearly a third voted againsthim.

reform. After accusing parliament of plan-


lackofbroad consensus on econom-

ics was matched by deep differences between

thepresident's menandtheparliamentonthe constitutional question over which branch of government should be supreme. In December 1992, the Congress of Peoples' Deputies reduced Yeltsin's power. With confrontation and political breakdown imminent, the chief

judge of the Constitutional Court, Valerii Zorkin, arranged a compromise. Congress agreed to a referendum (desired by Yeltsin) to resolve t}te question of whether Russia would have a parliamentary or presidential republic. The president replaced Gaidar with Viktor Chernomyrdin, a more mderate reformer. Instead of a working arrangement,



sentative of the comrpt and power hungry nomenklatura ofthe Soviet period. The Supreme Soviet, chosen by the Congress, was

divided among 14 principal factions, from hardliners to democrats, but the tone and direction of its debates often reflec0ed the anogance of its chairman, Khasbulatov, who feared thatthe fortlrcoming referendum would become a plebiscite against parliament.

firstcrisis point was reached

at the


of winter. Congress scrapped the December agreement, came out against the referendum and rejected advancing ttre election dates. On March 20, Yeltsin went on television and issued a decree on "special ruIe." The Constinrtional Courtcondemned Yeltsin's speech as aviolation of the constitution, and important constituencies, like the Civic Union, which represen0ed many industrial managers, opposed ttre decree. The Congress considered impeachment, butefforts to remove Yeltsin (and Khasbulatov) failed. Within a few days, Yeltsin was forced to back down, and the Congress, at the end of a stormy session, agreed to Yeltsin's referendum. Later, some would see the March events as a dress reheanal for the Septembercoup. Of the 65 percent of the voters who tumed out for the April 25 referendum, 58 percent expressed confidence in the president, 53

percent supported his reform policies,


percentcalledforparliamentary elections, and 33 percent desired presidential elections. In general, the referendumwas interpreted as a positive sign for Yeltsin, but there were ominous aspects.

of Russia's voters had made the effort to come out and express their confidence in their president; 2l .3 percenthad voted no confidence; and 35 percent had expressed no

opinion. The clearest message ofthe referendum was of avastcounEry deeply dividedaboutits

political leadership. Yeltsin was certainly more popular than the parliament, but parliament represented a significant proportion of the electorate and, more importantly, of the political elite. Outside of Moscow, many of those in local power prefened theparliament. As thedeadlockof power in Moscow under-

December compromise

launched nine months of political squabbling. Through early 1993, the popularity and prestige of parliament continued to erode. When elected in March 1990, the Congress had had more than 80 percent Communist party members, and many saw it as a repre-


Had dre referendum been an election, Yeltsinwouldhavebeen theclearwinner, but ifit is seen as a poll on his popularity, the results look less promising. Only 37.5 percent

YelBin's grealest support came

fromMoscow and

St. Petprsburg, as well as the fareastern regions of Russia, the north and the Urals. Buthe lostheavily in the non-Rus-

sian autonomous republics, in the Volga re-


of Russian demoGracy is far more


srnce September than it was before. mined the state's authority, the regions were becoming ever more independent ofthe center. Justas inthe lastyearof Gorbachev'smle, so in the second year of the Yeltsin administration, theerosionofpowerinthecenterwas leading to the dissolution of the counEry. Yeltsin's advisors began looking for ways !o resolve the crisis of power. In the summer, the president organized his own Constitutional Conference, which approved the draft of a new constitution written by his advisorsa draft based on a strong presidency to which

the govemment and the bureaucracy were responsible. The president would nominate the members of courts and have the right to dissolve the bicameral legislature in case of emergency. Parliament dug in its heels and stood by its own constitutional draft. For Yeltsin and his closest advisors the situation had become intolerable. No resolution of the crisis appeared possible within the framework of the old constitution. Yeltsin's government was itself split between different



ning a coup d'etat, Yeltsin warned that a showdown would come in September. He made a series of visits to military bases, and afterinspectingtheuoops oftheMinistryof

Interior's Dzerzhinski Division, he


nounced that Gaidar would return to his govemment. Izvestia, the newspaper most supportive of Yeltsin, wrote openly thatthe president was planning to dissolve parliament and set a date for new elections. On September 2 l, Yeltsin suspendedparliament and announced parliamentary elections for December. When parliamentrefu sed to retire quietly, the lines weredrawn forconfrontation. The


actions wereunconstitutional; Yeltsinhimself admittedas much, butthepresidentwas now committed to arevolutionary rather than an evolutionary road torecreating state power. The stalemate around theWhite House exploded into open warfare on Sunday, October 3, when crowds ofpro-Soviet demonstraton forced the police to disperse. Rutskoi incitedthe armed irregulars to seize the city hall and the television center. Khasbulatov

told the parliament that it might become necessary to occupy the Kremlin. The government was in disarray. Yeltsin returned to Moscow from his country home only on the evening of the third. For many hours, it was not clear which side the army and police might take. Yeltsin went personally to the Ministry of Defense to assure

MarshalGrachev thatthearmy wouldnotbe held responsible for the consequences of an attack on the parliament. Only then did the army launch its attack on the White House. The parliament quickly succumbed. Yeltsin

spoketothenationontelevisionof anarrned Communsit-Fascist mutiny. The building that had resisted the coup two years earlier burned for almost a day. Russia entered a new and uncenain periodafterSeptember2l. Theinstinrtions and rules of conductof the period of perestroilu have been swept away. The kindest reading of the effects of Yeltsin's actions has been that the last vestiges ofSoviet power have been eliminated; that no alternatives to the seizure of power and crushing of resistance existed; andthatRussiahadembarkedonthe

surest road to democracy. The cruelest reading is that the lurching reforms and gradualist evolutionary dismantling of the oldorderand thebuilding ofanew legal and constitutional order has been summarily replaced by a revolutionary authoritarian path to establishing a yetunknownRussian state; ftat alternatives had been eliminated by September 1993 because of Yeltsin and the parliament's commoninabilitytofindalanguage of compromise and negotiation; and that the future of Russian democracy is far moreuncertain since Septemberthan it was





The PlO.lsraeli Agreement May

Amount to Palestinian Surrender

AN UNEASY ENTENTE: lgraell Prlme MlnlsterYltzhak Rabln, US Presldent Blll Cllnton and PLO

Chalrman Yasser Aralat seallng the dea!, rlght; a Palestlnlan face-ofi wlth leraell soldlers at Gaza's Jaballya relugee camp, abovâ&#x201A;Ź.

Thc Lcsscrof Two Evils?

By NUBAB IIOVSEPIAN ore than 40 years after the creation of Israel and the simultaneous dismantling of Palestinian society,Israel andits nemesis, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), have reached what many have called a historic agreement whose purpose is to ensure peace andco-existence. Indeed, on the face of it, all parties and their constituencies should be celebrating. The costly 1982 invasion of kbanon made it abundantly clear ttrat a military solution was impossible, and a two-state solution the most preferable. But is this 'breakthrough" the harbinger of ajust peace, or does it represent the fiiumph of the powerfrrl over the weak? I forone believe thatthis agreement, signed at a staged event on theWhite House lawn, amounts to Palestinian surrender. AIM,NOVEI\IBER


By early I 993 the Israeli government was eager to pull its forces from some parts of the Gaza srip. Sara Roy, an expert on economic development in Gaza, notes that Israel's inclination toward withdrawal was also inpart

promotedby the ominously "increasing disablementand approaching breakdown ofcivil society in Gaza, a product of widening soci-

etal divisions and intemal fragmentation neverbefore seen inside the territory." Israel's policies have essentially brutalized daily life. Occupation in Gaza is much harsher than its equivalent in the West Bank. Morc Gazans linger in jails, and most of the people live in horrid conditions. Since the beginning ofthe Intifada, Gaza's gross na-

tional product has dropped by almost 50 percent, and unemployment has soared to almost40-50percent.

The "breakttrough"planmightindeedbe the best that a weakened Palestinian national

movement can expecl [t could stop the expansionof Israeli settlements, and setin mo-


contenders such as Saddam Hussein. Italso paved the way forthe devastating Israeli invasionoflpbanonin 1982by foreclosingthe possibility ofan Arab coalition to oppose iL

lead to a permanent solution. Further, a ma-

Occupiers byAny Othcr ilamc


The Gaza-Jericho plan remains short on details concerning the status of Israeli zealots who have settled in the OccupiedTenitories,


alleviate the grim conditions of daily life, and rehabilitate the economy of the territoriesthough, in light ofthe billions squandered by the ArabsintheGulf war, andtheUS unwillingness even to pay its dues to the UN, one cannot be very hopeful on this score. Notsurprisingly, this agreementhas been touted by many as the Palestinian-Israeli Camp David. Yet the first Camp David ushered in more than peace between Egypt and

Israel: it also isolated Egypt, the historical leader of the Arab world. The ensuing political vacuum made way for the rise of new


and the Palestinians made refugees by the 1967 war who have been denied the right to retum. No mention is made of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners who linger in tsraelijails. The agreement also expects




all forms of

resistance to the occupation, though its date of termination has not been specified. Even so, the lsraeli Defense Force needn't withdraw entirely from the occupied territories but simply concentrate its troops

away from population centers.

Palestinian "autonomy"

will at first

be exercised in Gaza and Jericho, but sovereignty over land andcontrol over waterresources will be retained by Israel. The occupation forces and Israeli settlers have already denied the Palestinians access

to alrnost 55 percent ofthe land. Israel's illegal appropriation of land and its diversion of Palestinian waterresources render the exercise of Palestinian sovereignty almost impossible. The question is, how much land is Israel willing to cede? Israel will continue its monopoly conEol over security and foreign affain, [rough the Palestinians willbeallbwed to form a "strong police force."

The Dccolonlzatlon Gaycat Why did the PLO accepr this plan? It could only have been hatched after the Cold War, and, for that matter, the Gulf War. Since those two events, Arab poverty has grown worse, and Arabregimes havegrown more authoritarian and therefore out oftouch with both theirpeople and each other. The legitimacy of these regimes is now being challenged by a reinvigorated and po-

liticized Islamic movement. The Islamic group Hamas was able to enlarge its base among Palestinians at the beginning of the

Intifada thanla to initial Israeli tolerance of and support for it, as a divide-and-rule tactic to weaken the PLO, and Saudi Arabian funding. Since then, the continuing improvement in Hamas' forfirnes can be explained by the

PLO's failureto deliveron its promises over the coruse of endless haggling-a developmentjustas damaging toincumbents inMideast politics as ttrose in the US. Because the PLO in effect stopped functioning, its legitimacy came to be questioned. Now thelsraelis fear Hamas, thus they recognized and legitimized ttre PLO in its weakened sate. Throughout the history of decolonization, rctreating powers have displayed a pattern of nrning political authority over to personalities-and groups ofproven "reliability." In light of this phenomenon, violence may soon rise andescalate. ThePLO, onceconvertedintoa governing authority, will be expected to sub. due, by physical force if necessary, all of its Palestinian opponents. To avoid such an eventuality, the freest of elections must be held. However, what would happen if an opposition coalition prevails? The "breakttrough" plan excludes such an unlikely possibility, which,intheevent, wouldhavetobereversed, violently if necessary, so that "order" and adherence to the agreement would be preserved.

ATIMEBOMB GALLEDGAZA ThispastJuly,IvisitedIsrael/Palestine, includingGaza, forthefrst time. Upon entering Gaza, I immediately felt besieged by the obrusive nature of Israeli occupation. As we drove through refulee camps, and in particular Jabaliya, I truly saw hell on earth. Ivtost of the 800,000 people live in gri_m and sqlalid conditions. As we drove through


Jabaliya camp, an Israeli Defense Forcejeep pulled atread of us.


CAUPSOFDEATH: Durlng lsrael's 1982 !nv+

slon of Lobanon, Lebanese Ghrlsttan mllltlamen, allles of lsrael, maasacred hundredc ol

Paleatlnlan clvlllans at the Sabra and Shatlla refugoe camps !n Wert Belrut. plctured above are lâ&#x201A;Źlcueworkers carrylng a body ln Sabra.

A failureby thePLO oplay thehenchman for thelsraelis and the Americans wouldprovide the pretext for the Israelis to repudiate the agrpement.

Recent Middle Eastern history also teaches us thatpacts negotiated as agreemenb

amongelites tend to breakdown,In this connection, Lebanon can serve as a good re-

immediately, outof nowhere, aboy whocould nothavebeenolderthan four shouted obscene insults at the Israeli soldiers and hurled a stone in their direction. Simply put, the Israeli occupation, far from being benevolent, is confining and degrading, andis hated by all sectois of Palestinian society. A few hours before this incident, we met wi*r a dozen prominent Gazaleaders, includingDr. HaidarAbdul Shafi, theheadoithepalestinian delegation to theWashington talks. Like the others atthe meeting, he was qui0e despondent with the ongoing negotiations. He was against withdrawing from the negotiations, buiinsiited that the palestinian side must institute radical reforms and must repoliticize and remobilizeis long-neglectedconstituency. Shouldtheiechangesfail

UFEUNDER bakehold,hewarned,

OCCUPAION: Gazamightexplode.In-




a dme bomb ready to


burstattheseams. ;-;fil;ii" irdrkpermlts Today, Dr. Abdel


Shafi has resigned from




tion, he insists that he will refuse to accept any post in the Palestinian political authority which is to be formed after Israeli forces conclude their partial withdrawal. Like others, he is dismayed by the provisions of the agreement. Israel will still retain its completehold over the l6settlementsinGazawhichoccupyno less than 30 percent of the total land mass in the suip. On the eve of the agreement, the

Rabin government had already embarked upon the expansion of the waterpipelines that service these settlements. Some have observed that these measures mark "the Rabin govemment's manifestcommitnent

tothesettlement'svitality." I

minder and warning. The devastating consequencesofthe lGyearcivil war, whichbegan in 1975, and the preceding civil war in 1958, are still painfully evident. Both wars were to a great extent the result of the loss of consensus over the 1943 National Pact, which appropriated power among the elites of the

Time rs runnmg

out for

the children of Armenia... but you can make a difference!

variouskbanese sects. Toavoidbloodycivil wars, the Palestinian leadership must regain

the loyalty and trust of its people. Debates about ttre funre must move from Norway to Palestinian civil society. As itstandsnow, the "historic" agreâ&#x201A;Źment is mute on the fate of nearly 60 percent of the almost 6 million Palestinians. For example,

NEW BEGINNINGS: Cllnton, Aralat, Pales-

tlnlan peacl delegatlon memberr Falsal Hurselnl and Dr. Hanen Ashrawl, and Chelgea Cllnton, the Pr6sldent's daughter, on the Whlte Houre Lawn.

it excludes the 350,000 Palestinians of


non from its purview. This segment of the population is indeed the forgotten of theearth. With no concrete hopes for the future, they will surely sneer at this agreement and continue to demand a place for themselves in a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian question. Palestinians do notexpectto re-qeatâ&#x201A;Ź their

societyasitexistedbefore 1948,butthey will notacceptprpetual marginalization of the 60 percent either. To avoid bloodshed, the Arafat-dominated leadership must become more democratic and inclusive. It must also be brually honest with its entire constituency about the limited amount that can be accomplishedjustnow, if there is any hope of securing their support. Nubar Hovseplan wrltes on lllddle East Allalrs, and lecturcc ln Polltlcal Sclene at Hu nter Col Wo, C lty U nlvenlJy ot New York.

Already faced with hardships resulting from the devastating earthquake of December 1988 and the economic collapse of the former Soviet Union, Armenia has been cut off from much needed fuel, food and medical supplies by a blockade brought on by warring neighbors. The most helpless victims are the children... but help is getting through. The Armenian Children's Milk Fund (ACMF) sponsored by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), has been airlifting vitally needed milk and baby formula to the children of Armenia. You can help make sure that this lifeline continues to operate.

Reach out in love and help us help the children in Armenia.. Fill out the form below and mail it to: Ihe Armenian Childrenrs Milk Fund c/o the Armenian Missionary Association of America 140 Forest Avenue Paramus, NJ 07652 Yes,

I'd like 0o help

my contribution of

the children in Armenia.








Make your tax deductible checks payable to AIvIAA,/Armenian Children's Milk Fund





Ara GulePs Ghrcnicles of the Gentury ByARllE[ AROYAI{

hotographer Ara Guler is not particularly good with names<xcept, perhaps, when it comes to the pantheon of z}thcentury artists and world leaders he has photographed over the course of a 30-year career. The fiamed and autographed pomaits of some of the luminaries hehas soughtoutandoftenbefriended, such as Pablo Picasso, TennesseeWilliams, Winston Churchill and Sergei Paradjanov, adornthe walls ofhis cluffered studios in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was born nI928. Guler is not particularly good with dates, eitlrer. Askhim about the year he worked on an assignment by, say, the American master photographer Richard Avedon, and he will give you a blank stare and a generously fluid guess as to possible dates. In fact, he can't keep up with

most of his own work-not surprising for a man who has some 20 books ofphotography to his credit, has covered stories

for Hurriyet, Der Stern, Parts Match and Time Life, and

Guler: "The camera ls a part of your body and the photograph ltaell le an lnstlnct. What'e most lmportant ls that wo photolournallstc be lalr ln our representatlon ol whatweBge."

whose pictures appear throughout the Encyclopaedia Britannica. AIM interviewed Guler in his office' -rshtctwnrinbashia* AIM,NOVEMBER


Life. I' ve worked extensively fortheir ancient civilizations series. Andofcourselhavetons of pictures in the EncyclopaediaBritannica. Butin terms of news publications, Ican hardly keep rackof allthe workthatl'vedone; I can't even say for sure where my photos have been


Youte spcnt somc tlmc ln Eartern

Turteytoo. What was it like to take photo3 of Armenian monuments? It is amazing to me thatWestern Armenia country in itieH, a civilizationjust like so many others thatsettled on this land.I was the first Armenian to photograph Ani while it was still a military zone. The pasha [who remains nameless] was an acquaintance of mine and gave me permission to travel in ttreregion. Iwasquitepleasedwiththeresults. But you know, Armenian architecture after the 12th century doesn't interest me very much. And unless I need to, I usually don't tour Anatolia. Actually, I have covered more of Armenia properthan Anatolia. was like a

fears about the old "subject." Imean,weallknow thestorybehindthose monuments in Eastern Turkey; we all know they werebuiltby Armenians, whetherthere is a fair and precise inscription or not. The Akhtamar Church, for example... it's obviously not Japanese. I say let them do as they


lf romconc were to send you to

Eactern Anatolia on assignmcnt today, would you go?

It wouldbebetterif I didn' t. Itwould only stir gossip, especially during these sensitive


Do you have any difficulties as an Armenlan living in Turkey?

What would you like to work on next?

No, I don't. And I am sure other Armenians

I have already reported from most parts ofthe world. I wouldnow liketoconcentrate on major, long-term assignments.

don'thave any problems either. Somebody, it seems, is creating stories about us being mistreated by the Turla. There really are no problems worth talking about.

ln all the books published here aboutArmenians, onall the Arme. nian historical landmarks I have visited, not a single word is men. tioned to acknowledge the legacy of thc Armenians. Why ls that? They do mention Armenians. They talk about us on television. But if we were to be discussed as we'd like to be in history books and so on, those books would probably be banned to assuage Turkish


Ialsohavesome300,000slidestakenover the course of my carecr; I should start orga-

nizing these archives. As far as ongoing projects are concerned, I am committed to Magnum, which is an elite association of40 or 50 photographers from around the world. Mostmembers areintheir80s,solthinklam oneof theyoungerassociates-I guess that's saying a lot. We have bureaus in New York, Paris, London and Tokyo, where most ofour collective work is kept.

lnterulew translated trcm the Armenlan by Aylln Baharlan.


contibutions to tlrc cultural landscapes ofhost countries. In Baku and Tbilisi, in particular, Armenian architects have infused new enercivic and private building, as well as urban planning, helping shape the modern gies into


national architecture

Today,noArmeniansareleftinBaku. And inTbilisi, wherethereis stillalargeArmenian community, the glitter of l9ttr century Armenian culture is a distant memory. But the

The Armenian Arehitecturc of Baku and Tbilisi

architectural legacy remains.

esthetic hallmarks, is


of Azerbaijan and


of the act of building. the very persistence

Boomtowns otthe llodern

Throughout the spiral

erhaps more than any other artform, architecture is a recurrent metaphor in Armenian history.

of ascending and col-

As an increasingly confident Russia widened its influence in

lapsing cities, kingdoms and commu-

article offaith

nities in diaspora,

theTranscaucasus dur-

comes closest to defining an Armenian national character, building as pure practice has yielded an architectural heritage that is marked by an enigmatic juxtaposition-and

Armenian architecture has remained the one irreducible constant.

ing the early

pecially after victory

As metaphor, itspeaks

over Persia in the 1828

often concordance---of technological innovation and spirituality. At their best, the themes of Armenian architecture are signposts for cultural fusion rather than points of delineation: Armenian builders have both bonowed abundantly from and influenced the architecture ofEuropean

even more forcefully onthesitesofvanished

mercial networks


as an

civilizations. Butthe striking virtue of Armenian archi-

and Eastern

tecture, even superceding its engineering and

The Mltlan

manslon, &,

above rlght, and the Statâ&#x201A;Ź Bank ln


of the l9th century, es-

war, extensive com-

Armenian cities or settlements outside of


Caucasus. Armenian communities in GeorgiaandAzerbaijanalso

the Armenian Repub-

lic, in places like Turkey and Eastern Eu-

flourished during this period,andsoonthefu-


Much the



story has been registered in the Transcaucasus of the


at the center of l9th century,

whereArmenianimmigrant communities



region's economic and





Manufacturing and business magnates like the Mantashians, Aramiantses, Tamamshians, Bozarjians, Pitoyans, Hovnanians, Shadinians, Loris-Melikians and Adamians

wereamong themovers and shakers inBaku and Tbilisi, while the new urban wealth contibuted to the establishment of an array of

theatrical, educational and religious


institutions in the Armenian


ffi nn




By the 1830s, city

HHffi',IH"ii""#; Tbilisi, where a largenumber

of industrial, residential and public

tectGabrielTerMikelian (l 87 4-1949). After earning a degree in architecture in St. Petersburg, he lived and worked in Baku from 1900 to 1912. His fusion of elements from classicalGrcekandRoman, as wellasMedievalArmenian and Islamic, architecture helped lay

buildings were constructed. Since local talent was hard to come by in those early years of development, building connacts were often given to Russian, Polish, German and Jewish architects and artisans who migrated to the region. Their influx meant the introduction of modemist and neo-classical styles that often imitated the nouveau riche architectrrrc of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other European centers. But the increased pace of construction the Transcaucasus

the foundation of the modern Azerbaijani school. Among his Baku masterpieces is a four-story mansion he builtforthe Sadikhov brothers ( 19 l0- 19 I 2), whose grand fagade is still a source of pride to residents of the Azerbaijani capital. But despite his experimentations with disparate architectural styles, Ter Mikelian was influenced foremost by Armenian classical and Medieval traditions. The expression of this preferencedates backto 1900, tohisblueprint of the two-story Yuzbashian rcsidence (1900-1901). Again in 1905, he designed a church and mausoleum in Yalta for the Baku oil magnate Ghugasian and two years later won a design competition, jointly with architect A. G. Rodiniants, for an Armenian


eventually created a demand for home-grown experts. Records show

that over a 60-year period, some 1,000 Russian- and European-

trained Armenian


returned to the Transcaucasus to practice architecture and city plan-

ilng. Toward the end of the century, 30 of them had become esablished architects in Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan. Their names read like a "who's who" of 19th and early 20ttr

church in Baku.

Amongthepublic buildingsTerMikelian consEucted"theBakuTownHall(19lGl9l2) Baku's Town Hall (now the Phllharmonlc's concert


century Armenian architecture. Much of their legacy, works which were often funded by wealthy Armenians, survives today.


f ikcllan's Ctursings

The architecture of Baku and Tbilisi is inexticably linked to the prolific master archi-



stands out. The classical building was later


into the Azerbaijani Phil-

harmonic' s concert hall. ln 1912, Ter Mikelian accepted a commission to design Tbilisi's Majestic Hotel complex (now the Tbilisi Hotel), which he devised as a five-story sculptural mass with classical facades. Ter Mikelian lived in the Georgian capital until his death, and designed and built a myriad ofprivate residences, including the mansion of M. Milian (1912-


lntothe Honumental Another noteworthy architect was Mikayel Aghajanian, who specialized in large-scaleprojects in both Tbilisi and Baku between 1889 and 1915. Among his prominent designs in Tbilisi were the State Bank (19 l0), the Exchange Bank, the residence of

the Boza{ian brot}ers, and the Zubalov Theater (now the Merjanashvili Theater). The dominantstyle ofthesebuildings is an eclectic modernism that is marked by an elegant economy of decorative elements. The bank fagades, in particular, stand as two of the


\ \ r*$src sAruRDAY, rudvgutBEtzo, lggly.E:oo KHACHAruRAIOIN/{{

most beautiful architectural sites in Tbilisi today. Equally prolific was Poghos Zurabian (1878-1947), who worked throughout Georgia. He designed homes for more than 30 wealthy Armenians in the capital, as well as

public buildings like the Aramiants and Zubalian (Zubalov) hospitals, themagrificent



fe.aafwev.\W* 7&-4?.47

complex of the Nersisian Academy (19091912) andthelftmoyanchurch.Zurabianalso designed the catholicossate and library of the Holy Seeof Ejmiatsin in Armeniain 19091910. E.

A. Tlgranlan ls a Proleeaor ol Archl-


at the Polytechnlc lnstltute ln

Yerevan, Armenla.


eoM r,eproductions on' $loes.y 91,x.8'stock, the Agenda also canies the biographies of participating artists. $($ls \sysvs$&

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I r



THELOO Some Geographical Notes on Nigol Beziian's Chickpeas igol Bezjian's account of the

DasporaBezjian tries to depict often breathes purevenom. Hereboththeideaandcondition ofexile are tirelessly nurtured as existential poins of deparnre, and ttre attendanthabits of

making of C hic lEeas is a story in

exile<osmopolitan ghettoes, linguistic

is own right. He started shooting

schizophpnia, messianism and hero-worship, fear of authority, self-haned, creative retrogression and provincialism-become the stuff of myth.


the film with a donated camera package and a discount commitment from a film development lab; settling for a cast of mostly amateur actors, he spent the next four years hustling forfunds, technical equipment,

permits, sets and props, locations andacrew; as delays and shortages plagued the production, Bezjianalsohadtoconvince someactors "to quit theirjobs or take vacations, close their shops, move out of their houses" to get the project going; and he was forced to stop the

film'seditingphasewhilehelookedforwork to finance the post-production process. ChiclEeas,whrch cost $300,000 to make, was recently released for intemational disuibution under a new title,Midnight Escape.

Allthismay soundlikefamiliartenitoryto

any independent filmmaker working in America today. What sets Bezjian's odyssey

apart is its significance as an Armenian Diaspora projectthat was putinto motion, like so many other

similarconcepts, in a frustrat-

ing vacuum of well-trained artistic talent, supporting institutions and sympathetic audiences. But even more importantly, Chickpeas desenres attention as a work that sEives to encapsulate the quintessential Diaspora. It is this particular effort, more than anything else, that continues to win the film considerable exposure at international festivals from

Chinatoltaly. Bezjian's is a world of mass psychic dysfunction, populatedbycreaturesonthefringe who become the more disoriented and selfconscious with every political upheaval forcing them to head for the great unknown again, with every new humiliation atinternational points of entry and immigration offi ces, at each attempt to rebuild shattered lives in alien environments, and upon everyencounter with distant Diaspora compatriots who have grown sohateful ofeach otheras to give the wordracism aplethora of painfully novel twists. Itmaynotcomeasasurprise, then, thatthe

ezjian has set out to tell the whole, unexpurgated story of the immigrant experience, drawing from his own background and those of Armenian communities dotting the suburban grid lines of racially charged Los Angeles. But somewhere along theway, hehas gotten so wrappedupin theimageryofthesurfacethathehas lostsight

ofthebigpicture: theoppormnitytopoliticize exile crumbles under the weight of fatalistic prcnouncements that


firmly in league with

tear-jerking aspects of duduk music, while fte hugely regenerative powers of collective memory are utterly wasted, their healing and instructive potential reduced to facile typecasting and ethnic self-congranrlation. As forthe film's artistic merit, itmaybea toughcall, considering. Inview of themeager resources, the truly atrocious acting pool in particular, with which Bezjian has had o make do, one may think twice before expecting miracles. But then again, there can be no excuse for bad writing, passable directing and producing-all for which Bezjian takes full credit. Incomparably betterfi lms are known to have been made by independent American filmmakers for less than $300,000. And tuthe

menian audiences can demand, wehope, more


B-movie fare from serious Armenian in the age of Paradjanov,


Peleshian and Egoyan.



hickFtea.r' openingscene,shothcin-

;ffiflT,l:l *1"- t1i'JHiil:

raw power, the metally foretaste of



tion about to sweep the landscape. In the Beirut of 1976, a group of Armenian teenagers, already comporting themselves like war-wizened men andwomen, huddleupina pirch-dark alley, while artillery shells whizz AIM, NOVEMBER 1993

by. One of the kids asks the time, and



crack hits the mark: '"Ihere's London... there's Paris... there's Los Angeles... which

timedoyouwant?' This is, ofcourse, the very essence ofthe Diaspora situation. And the metaphor becomes all the more poignant when we realize that geopolitical shifts in the last two decades have fragmented Diaspora communities to such a degree that we now have diasporas within the Diaspora. Thus thousands of Armenians livingin France, theUS andCanada today consider themselves unwilling diasporas ofArmenian "bastions" in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and elsewhere. The nomad's life, in the archetypically Armenian tradition, has gotten worsebeforeithashadachance to


But while the state of exile also offers ample material for creative expression, inner liberation and a concordance with universal culture, Bezjian chooses 8o drag his characters right down to the stygian depths of self-pity. In his existential arrangement, redemption is


while those aspiring for loftier rewards like traditional culture and emotional centering

three friends and the rest of his script with characters whose main purpose, besides of-


fering further comic relief, lies in complementing the iconography of exile: the ancient diva who finally gives up on life after a pa-

I ezjian seâ&#x201A;Źms to suggestthat the worklr',1i"ffii"":1frI[fl :fff i*i'."#11

ttretic bout with nostalgia; the cynical priest relishing his Mercedes Benz and the other comforts of his calling; the infi nitely rude and petty bsses in ttreir lahmaioon, Oriental carpet and rotisserie chicken emporia; the shrewd, slimy middle-aged suitors of re-

tions such as language, architecture and lifestyle become the decisive factors in the relative health of immigrant Armenian com-

munities. In the case of the ArmenianAmerican Diaspora, friendships collapse,

specable middle-ageddamsels in disress; ttre frazz)ed,spiritually broken Arizona recluse blaming his family for notjoining him in the

chronic despair sets in, and money-making supersedes all other aspirations.

But inthis, ultimately, Bezjianhas missed


ttre point about the power of human tansformation. History tells us thatArmeniancom-

The one charactcr putting the film in a perspective ofa different order is Elizabeth, deftly playedby ArshdeKhanjian. Enigmatic andconfident,sheistheonlyengagingfemale presence in the film, and we'd wish Bezjian had gone the mile to explore the dimensions lurking behind ttre lackluster dialogue. Khanjian zooms through like some luxu-

rious slap in the face with the promise of refirn, but the filmdoesn't know quitp whatto do with her. Neither Raffi, her love interest who gets her pregnant, nor any ofthe other male Neander$als occupying the film are any matchto herintelligence. As arule, RafEEeats heras though shewere a modernharempiece with a few other bonuses-like eaming a living of her own; and when Bezjian unites the

Bezllan: banklng on our aympathles the sell+onsclously marglnallzed.

trro after she has left him, having had enough of his incessant sexist badgering, the film's knack for simplistic resolution reaches a ridiculouspeak.

In ttre final count, those willing to subscribetotherags torichesmodemakeitbigin America,withanice, moreorless submissive Armenian girl thrown in for good measure,







munities have led vibrant, productive lives in supposedly the most alien of places, among ttrem lndia, Poland, Georgia, Russia and Azerbaijan; it also teaches this: that the unimaginable vastness of an America, its powers of regimentation and serialization, its grinding pace, its outrageous reliance on the sound byte as gospel and its worship ofthe ephemeralareactually achallenge, ratherthan ahindrance, to cultures stuggling o maintain radition and identity. Once we have accepted the idea of Diaspora as political, hence spiritual, reality, it must be absolutely of no consequence whether we drop anchor in





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L.A.'s Armenian Bookstores

Arc Bucking the Tiend TEXT ANDPHOTOS

By ABA OSHAGAN ou have tobe crazy to open

els+errerything but books-and especially

up an Armenian book-

the wedding invitations, that keep the bookstore in business, But why does he even bother with the bookstore? Hewill giveyou a subduedsmile. 'My bookstore is an object of great fulftllrnent

store," Berj Der Sahakian

willtellyou. Youwill findhim seatedneartheentrance of Berj Bookstore, an Armenian alphabet poster and a Karabakh map behind him. The place is shaped something like a narrow alley with books along both walls and on either side of tall, upright shelves running down the middle of the store. Stacked in one corner are

for me," he says. "It is nourishment for the soul."

oversized albums full of wedding invitation samples. An elderly man---a regularcustomer and friend who srolls in a few times a week to buy a newspaper and speak ofthe literary world-listens thoughtfu lly. Why crazy? As his cigarette smoke drifts into the air, Der Sahakian explains that an Armenianbookslorecannevermake enough profrt to make ends meet; there simply are not enough buyers. At best, it will be self-sufficient and usually noteven that. "One has to go into it with something else

bookstores. They are situated in the two cities most densely populatedby ArmeniansAbril Bookstore and Shirak Bookstore are in Hollywood, while Sardarabad Book Service and Berj Bookstore are in Glendale. Only Sardarabad Book Service dates backbefore

in mind

besides making a


Armenian community in the Diaspora, Be{ Bookstore is one of only four Armenian

living," Der

Sahakian says. Anyone whohas had anything to do with an Armenian bookstore will agree .

Berj Bookstore goes back to a Beirut, Lebanon store of the same name, which Der Sahakianopenedin 1975. Heemigratedtothe US in 1987 and established a bookstore in Hollywood. Two years laler, he moved it to thepresent spot in Glendale. He carries books in Armenian and English, posters, T-shirts, cassette tapes, stickers, cards, decorativeplates anda myriad of other gifts with Armenian themes. Itis everything AIM,NOVEMBER 1993

I 980-a reflection of the tremendous growth of the Los Angeles Armenian community in thelastdecade.

Andnonearemerebooksellers: likeBerj,

Abril and Shirak are also printers,

and Sardarabad is owned and supported by the

Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), the youth wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARD. The sole exception to the rule, whichironically seems toproveit, is, or was, Karoun Bookstore, Garen Krikorian, now 73 years old,

Krikorian will readily enumerate a litany of chronic problems hurting the Armenian book business: the high price tag on most books, public indifference, the impossibility of maintaining reliable contact with Armenian publishers in some 25 countries. This dispersion ofpublishers drives up the shipping costs tremendously. Also, due to low demand, theprintrun of mostArmenianbooks is low, driving prices up. "Books printed in the Diaspora are expensive," continues Krikorian, "and not many will pay $15-20 for a bookjust to see if they like it or not." Krikorian will also tell you the Armenian public lacks the proper attitude towards Armenian letters to have much interest in them. "We don't even have a writers' union in Los Angeles," he says. "Who even thinks about Armenian writers? The only reason to start an Armenian bookstore is as a service to the na-


Matters of Habit Even though some are larger and better stocked than others, the overall picture at all four Armenian bookstores in Los Angeles is more or less the same, Somewhere between 60-70 percent of their inventory consists of books in Armenian, 30-40 percent are in English and an odd percent or two in some other

language-French, Russian

UPHILL BATTLE: Deeplte publlc lndlflerence toward Armenlan language and llterature, Sardarabad Book Servlce (clockwlse lrom above), and Shlrak, BerJ and Abrll bookstores have kept thelr doors open.

opened Karoun Bookstore in Glendale in 1984. A lover of Armenian books and litera-

the red and was forced to close shop. "It is not worth putting a lot of money into

ture all his life, Krikorian thought selling

books," says Krikorian. "You can throw half

books would be a good way to spend his retirement years. With a complete line of Armenian books in Armenian and English from the Diaspora and Armenia, he hoped to break even or, with a little luck, maybe make a few bucks. A year later, he was $7-8 thousand in

much into a grocery store and make l0 times profit." To pay the $ l,200 permonth or so rent and all the other overhead expenses, you need to sell nearly $500 worth ofbooks each week, which is seen as a near-impossible feat in the Armenian community. as




Children's books, cookbooks, dictionaries, books of dream interpretation, Armenian language instruction books, bibles and song books are by far the best sellers. In the last five years, elementary andhigh school Armenian textbooks have also sold well. As for literary works, theclassics-Paruyr Sevag, Yeghishe Charents, Raffi, Siamanto and others-are usually in demand, as are most of Andranik Tsarukian's novels, while William Saroyan is a favorite among English language readers. Only rarely will a particu-



commercial phenomenon.

A case in point is Martiros Vardanian's recently published chronicle of life in Soviet

Armenia, whichis now completely sold outofall 500 printed copies. Book buying and reading patterns also confirm clearly distinguishable cultural fac-

tors such as geographic background and preferences in dialect and even orthography:

in general, Armenians from Lebanon and Syria stick to the Westem-Armenian dialect; Armenians from Iran and Armenia to the Eastern Armenian dialect, and second- and

third-generation Armenian-Americans to the Western Armenian dialect or English. Inthelastfewyean, Armenianbooksellers have seen a boost to sales from a rather unexpected source: due to the increase in the local Armenian population and the consequent enrollment of a large number of Armenian students in public schools, Los Angeles andGlendalepublic librariesandschoolshave

made significant purchases at Armenian bookstores----of both Armenian- and English









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!ry] f!) H lFDrc]

language texts.

All booksellers agree that this

bookstore in Los Angeles.


It is because of Abril

to disseminate Armenian books and letters.

Printing that those doors are still open, Yeretsian

Thc Wlll to Literaturc


In addition to theusual array ofrecentand

At first, Abril carried

classic books, Abril Bookstore is known to have the largest selection of books from fu-

only Diasporan books in Armenian and English. But by 1982, thanks to a

menia-a result of the close ties Harout Yeretsian, the owner, has developed with Soviet-and now Armenian-publishers and disfiibutors over the years. Yeretsian is from Beirut, where he was involved with the Vartan Adjemian theater group as a director. He fled the Lebanese civil war in 1976 and settled in Los Angeles. After nvoyears ofdoingoddjobs, heandhisbrother started the magazine Abril, a literary and cultural monthly. In 1979, they establishedan

auxiliary business, a printing shop whose earnings, they hoped, would ease Abril 's financialburdenand widenitscirculationbase.

"But the opposite occurred,"


Yeretsian. "We started printing other things and by 1984 Abril had gone into a coma." Meanwhile, the Yeretsian brothers, who have always been part of local literary and intellectual circles, felt the need for an Armenian bookstore in the community. In 1980, egged on and supported by two close friends, they expanded and opened the doors ofAbril Bookstore, the first commercial Armenian



books from Armenia started appearing on Yeretsian's shelves and they have kept on pouring in despite the political and social turmoil in Armenia. Throughout the US and Europe, Abril is now noted for being one of the best

sources of publications fromArmenia. Theboolatore, agood-

*Our schools have not been able to create a love for

Armenian literature. The youth do care about Armenian history, culture, but not about the Armenian language.t' Harout Yeretslan, Abrll Bookstore

sized, well-lit outlet with numerous tall and waist-high book shelves, is run by Yeretsian. Usually, HaroutYeretsian is tobe found in his

office, which he calls his "warehouse," drinking coffee or smoking, and taking care

of the dual business of printing and bookselling. Sitting beneath towering book shelves and surrounded by inegular stacks


books, Yeretsian speaks of the Armenian community, books and the dwindling interest


in the Armenian



"Wearesellingmore and more English language books," he says. "The youth care about

Armenian literature, history, culfire, but not

about the Armenian

Ianguage. Our schools here have notbeen able

to create a love for Armenian literature." But Yeretsian is not rash in

his condemnation;


also talks about the


side. 'There is no Armenian literature that can stir today's youth,"





nian letters mustbe nurtured, developed and maintained by the very people involved in it," Yeretsian explains. "In this, there is a great void in our community: very few reviews of Armenian books are

published in the media. Aside from Vah6 Oshagan, nobody consistently writes about Armenian books, new orold." Yeretsian will also tell you that there is strong demand for certain types of Armenian books which don't exist. For one, modern

Armenian comedies, Hagop Baronian and a handful of otherwriters notwithstanding, are hard to come by. Anthologies are also rare birds in bookstores, and a concise, non-academic and affordable history of Armenia has yet to appear in print.

Publishers of the Hainst:eam Shirak Bookstore, like Berj, has its roots Beirut bookstore of the same name and is now located in a mini-mall. It is an endeavor that dates back to 1952, when Ohannes Hannessian and his brother started Shirak Publishing and Bookstore. By 1969, the in


bookselling wing had grown into what Hannessian calls the largest Armenian bookstore in the Diaspora. Over the years, Shirak has carved a sig-

nificant niche in Diaspora publishing. Its flagship publications, comprising dictionaries, children's folktales, song books and the inimitable bookof dream interpretation, have become household items. All in all, the Shirak insignia has appeared on some 100 volumes, published in Lebanon and the US. "We are a



printing, publishing


many problems in the bookstore business in theUS. "Here," he says, "there are no readers [of Armenian language books] whatsoever between theages of I 8 and40. The oldergeneration still buys, and parents buy for their children, but that's it." One of the many reasons for this is that "this community has not found its character yet. And when people are constantly fighting for survival, they have no time or energy for books." Why does Hannessian stick with it? "First and foremost, it's a matter of love." he says.

Language at the Gore Sardarabad Armenian Book Service is the most spacious Armenian bookstore in the area. In the middle of the store, book shelves constructed with bricks and planks of wood stand next to each other in ease, offering plenty of space to browse. Against the walls are tall book cases, near them tables full ofbooks. "A lot of older men walk in and spend an hour or more, reading and browsing," says Rita Demirjian, the current manager. "Nobody bothers them." Behind her, the wall is


with posters of Armenia


bookselling," Hannessian says. "That is why

Karabakh. From a calendar, modern-day

we are a success." From the corner of the small room that is his bookstore-shelves clear to the ceiling, overflowing with books of all sizes and shapes-Hannessian will tell you there are

fedayeen sportin g semi-automatics or astride


Soviet-madetankskeepwatch. Atanered bill from the FirstArmenian Republic hangs from a cork board. Families wander in with grocery bags in hand, browse, buy children's books

and leave. The Sardarabad Armenian Book Service

began many years ago as a public service project of the AYF's San Fernando Valley Sardarabad Chapter^ The idea was to disseminate books to the local Armenian community and at the same time make some money forthechapter.

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"We specialize in what is called revolu-

tionary literature," says Demirjian. "The genre includes biographies of fedayeen, political history and thought, and ARFpublications in general." The store also carries many works of art, mostly by Iocal Armenian artists-paintings, drawings and craft work-sold usually on consignment. Even some clay pottery from Karabakh was recently added to the section. Sardarabad earns enough to cover its own costs, but it also gets financial and moral support from the AYF. Chapters often help the store by putting some of its books on sale at local Armenian churches. 'The true mission of Sardarabad is to create interest in the Armenian language and books," says Demirjian. To this end, the AYF and Demirjian have big plans. "First," she says, "we want to move to a

better location and convert to a bookstorecaf6. People could buy books and then sit down, have a cup of coffee and read them."

At the time, there were no established bookstores in the area and the AYF took the books directly to the Armenian people-to churches, picnics, festivals and whereverelse they congregated. It was the first roving Armenian book store, and today, that tradition iscariedonbyKourken Khanjian, a genocide survivorinhis 80s, who single-handedly mans

the ANC Mobile Bookstore. In 1989, Sardarabad moved to its present

location and has since grown


both variety and quantity. Its shelves carry a full slate of English and Armenian language books published in the Diaspora, as well as

books from Armenia and non-Armenian publishers.

ll four Armenian bookstores in the Los Angeles area seem well established and undaunted by present and future difficulties. They offer the Armenian community a wide variery of books in Armenian andEnglish. Now, it's only a mat-

ter of creating interest from the other



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hen Rus-

r r games


sia began



lrom a dead


with the ruble,

somerepublicsquickly releasedtheirowncurrency. Armenia, however, acted more directly-simply taking

It's no surprise that nearly every Yerevaner has made it her business to tell at least one village-entrepreneur that this isn't a sale, it's outright looting. Sometimes, they do more than yell. They curse, they slug it out. It' s the villager' s sweat, fuel and fertilizer pitted against the city folks' equally hard-earned, but extremely low wages. After a few such go-rounds, some find ail/m[AR



new,sometimes unsavorysolutions. Butthey work. Take the logic of one new market enffepreneur who preferred to remain anony-

from Russia its old


money, andessentially

"Why should the villager leave his land anduseexpensive gasolineto come to thecity and stand around all day? I do them a favor

making that the currency of the Armenian Republic. Alas, all Armenia saved was paper and

bybuyingtheirwholelotatareasonable,but lowprice. Then, Ihiresomeoneto sitwiththe products and sell theminthecity. Iknowhow high unemployment is. The government couldn't pay these guys if it wanted to. This way, I'm providing them employment. And ofcourse, I have to pay offsome local officials who aren't too keen on my playing middleman. But still, I'm not complaining. If it wasn't worth it, I wouldn't venture into

Westoodby andwatchedthesuperfall of our "new" money just as the other republics stood by and watched their new currencies lose value. At the beginning of September, when old and new Russian dye.

rubles could still be found side-by-side in the open air currency market adjacent to Republic Square, it was possible to purchasenewrubles atjust l0percentoverface value. By the end of September, it was at least 55 percent and climbing. In absolute terms, the rate of devaluation exceeded even the accepted rates



That's what the whole country has become:


land ofcynics and oppornrnists.

ofhyperinflation. nd occasional

Andso,thedollar'svalueinthecurency market quickly rose to over 2,000 rubles



There is Haik,

late September (much more now). The same thing happened at the national bank which, although obliged to follow the unofficial market, nevertheless always remained one step behind in its effortto catch up to the

the high-rise farmer. He

lives on the l2th floor,

withhismotherand 17year-old sister"

"I'vealready carried

unofficial market.

It's obvious that the market mustdictatethe government' s policies. However, since everything that influences the market and that can ameliorate the situation is dependent on external factors, and not in the govemment's hands, the govemment is forced to go along with the statusquo.

And the blockade goes on... so we meet another dead end.

verywhere. Even at home. Especially for the women. They don't like depending on prepared foods, preferring topreserve, can and pickle their own food. And this is the season that requires frequent visits to the market. The Yerevan markets have always been abundant. They were this fall, too. But goods whichused to be notjust abundant, but also accessible arenow accessibleonly to the few. Daily, the crackbetweenprices and salaries widens, and so does the break between villager and city-


up lor



ing standards and the tragic consequences that can follow, the same govemment has also been obliged to levy high taxes.




l5bagsofwood.If ll

be enough for


month this winter. If I manage to bring up 30 more bags and if this

winter is not as bad as the last one, I think we'll be fine." It's beenoverayearthattheelevatorin theirbuilding doesn'twork. Whose does? So, l2-year-old Haik carried up each 40 kg. bag by himself. Haik is also the owner of two chickens. He keeps them on their porch where he raised them from the two little chicks some relatives in the village gave him. He hasn't quit school. He does his farmer-ing after hours. And he does it well. He takes his chickens to a nearby coop, and the next morning, he goes to collect two eggs. He knows that if the winter gets really bad, they'll be able to eat chicken. But he hopes they don't have to. Voskan Mamlkonlan ls a free lance wiltet llvlng




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Tainted Blue - November 1993  
Tainted Blue - November 1993  

Armenian International Magazine | Tainted Blue - November 1993